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Cable 328: US Embassy Report on Disarming Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland

Cable 328: US Embassy Report on Disarming Paramilitary Groups in Northern Ireland

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Published by Andres
This is a 2010 US embassy report on the decommissioning of weapons controlled by loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
This is a 2010 US embassy report on the decommissioning of weapons controlled by loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

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Published by: Andres on Jul 24, 2011
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P 150813Z JAN 10FM AMEMBASSY DUBLINTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0406C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN000013SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH WEAPONSDECOMMISSIONERS
Classified By: Ambassador Daniel M. Rooney.Reasons 1.4(b/d).¶1. C) SUMMARY: The group charged with overseeingthe decommissioning of paramilitary weapons inIreland told us that weapons decommissioning hasbeen accomplished to a great extent, but notcompletely. Completing devolution of policingand justice remains crucial to the peace process;failure to do so could vindicate the violence ofdissident splinter groups in the eyes of many.Continuing separation of the two communities inNorthern Ireland and lack of economic opportunityalso threatens further progress. The possibilityof traveling to the U.S. is a powerful "carrot"with which the U.S. can influence activists'behavior, according to our interlocutors. We willcontinue to strengthen Irish resolve on urging theNorthern Ireland parties to agree on devolution.END SUMMARY.¶2. (C) On January 13 Ambassador Rooney met withGeneral John de Chastelain, the Head of the
 
Independent International Commission onDecommissioning in Northern Ireland, and co-Commissioners Andrew Sens, Brigadier Tauno Nieminenand Aaro Suonio. (STRICTLY PROTECT ALL FOUR.) DeChastelain said the Commission must start wrappingup its work, as its annual mandate expires onFebruary 9 and will not be renewed. The majorparamilitary groups in Northern Ireland have alldecommissioned their weapons, with the most recenthaving been the loyalist Ulster Defense Association(UDA), which decommissioned its weapons on January6. One splinter group within the UDA, theSoutheast Antrim Brigade, has not decommissionedits weapons, however. De Chastelain said theSoutheast Antrim Brigade had indicated a desire todecommission, possibly even before the Commission'smandate expires, but was being held back byconcerns regarding dissident elements withinthe group.¶3. (C) Sens said, while stressing the Commission'sindependence and commitment to "stay out ofpolitics," that one concern of the loyalist groupsis their desire to reap the same benefits from thedecommissioning process as republican leaders have,including increased job opportunities and training,and the ability to travel to the U.S. He commentedthat when Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams received hisfirst U.S. visa in 1994, it was a powerful messageto the leaders of paramilitary groups to reformtheir behavior. Loyalist groups are now vocalizingtheir desire to have this same benefit, althoughthey realize they might not be eligible due toprevious criminal and terrorism-related activities.4. (C) The Commissioners' assessment of thecurrent state of play regarding the peace process
 
was that great progress had been made and a returnto widespread violence was unlikely but notimpossible. They said the most constructive rolethe USG and the Irish government could play wouldbe to continue to make clear to the unionist sidethat devolution of policing and justice remains anecessary final step in the peace process. If thatstep is not taken, they said, the mainstreamrepublicans, particularly Sinn Fein, stand to losecredibility with their base, while the message ofthe republican dissidents, who advocate a return toterrorist violence, would be vindicated in the eyesof many frustrated grassroots nationalists. At thesame time, the Commissioners worried that Irelandand the UK are already discussing a Plan B tokeep the peace process moving along if devolutionfails. Both governments need to maintain resolve ondevolution, they stressed.¶5. (C) The Commissioners stressed that continuingsectarianism and lack of economic opportunityremain two factors that endanger continuingprogress toward stability in Northern Ireland. Theydescribed the continued day-to-day separationbetween Catholics and Protestants, especiallynoticeable in separate schools, separate neighbor-hoods and separate sporting teams. Lack of jobs oreconomic opportunity for young, uneducated anduntrained men on both sides of the divide are thebiggest potential threat to peace, all agreed. Allwho are interested in consolidating the gains ofrecent years need to promote economic opportunity,job training and integration of the twocommunities, they said.¶6. (C) COMMENT: The Commissioners' assessment ofthe current state of play, namely that a return to

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